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Northease Manor School

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History

Our school was founded in 1963 and is situated in a Grade II listed Tudor Manor House, nestled in the beautiful Sussex countryside at the foot of the South Downs. The space and openness of our location sets the tone for the whole experience of being part of Northease.

Northease is situated between the water-meadows of the Ouse Valley and the chalky Downs.  The land was given to Lewes Priory by William de Warenne in the late 11th century and it served as a monastic farm until the Priory was closed in the 1530s.  

The estate was owned by the Marquess of Abergavenny’s family for many years until 1919.  During WWII, the Manor was used as a recuperation base by Canadian troops and was bought by a Captain Hastings in 1947.  David Carter purchased the property in 1962, with a view to creating a school.

David Carter was born in 1916. He read Mathematics at Cambridge University before joining the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm when war broke out in 1939. He married Joanna Nicholl, a nurse who grew up in Lewes, in 1945.

After the war, David became a Maths teacher at his old school (St Lawrence College, Kent).  David and Joanna started and ran a successful residential probation home in Surrey for the London Police Court Mission, for young men in trouble with the police.

After working in the aircraft industry during the 1950, David wanted to return to teaching.  He and Joanna had a plan – to create a small boarding school which could provide individual attention to boys who had struggled in their previous schools.  In 1961, David and Joanna started looking for somewhere to start their school and found Northease Manor in 1962. They moved in with their three children, two dogs and two cats and the building work began and continued through the harsh winter of 1962/3.

Finances were tight too, but extended family chipped in - David’s brother Stephen donated a trampoline, one of Joanna’s brothers, Geoff, donated a sailing boat, another, Pat became the school doctor. and David’s sister Mildred loaned cash to convert the stable block. The first couple of boys arrived in the Spring of 1963, but the school really opened in the Autumn of 1963 with six or so boys and a couple of teachers.

And the vision? It is nicely summed up by David’s words in the school’s first prospectus “This is a school for boys whose characters are likely to benefit their fellow men and no boy is excluded by current weakness in school subjects, even if success in written examinations has so far been out of the question”.

Sadly, in October 1970, while resting after a game of hockey with the boys, David (aged 54) died suddenly of a heart attack. A dedicated team of staff helped Joanna keep the school going.  Joanna eventually moved into Lewes where she joined the Town Council and became Mayor of Lewes in 1986.

1976 saw the addition of a swimming pool – many will remember that year as a long hot summer  by the time the pool was finished, there was a drought and it could not be filled with water! The new plaster cracked over the winter and had to be replaced before it could be used!

The school became co-educational in 1989 with just three girl boarders.  We currently have 13 girls across the different age groups, both day girls and boarders.

The Carters treated the school as an extension of their family and Northease maintains this family feel even today.  All members of the school community work together for the good of the students, and it is a bustling lively place.